The Void of Strategic Decision-making in Region

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Hossein Valeh
Faculty Member of Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran; Iran's Former Ambassador to Algeria

The overall outlook for the ongoing crises in the Middle East is not promising as multifaceted military conflicts are going on with the participation of overt and covert forces all across the region. Tension is building up between Turkey and Russia, and at the same time, more members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are trying to steer clear of that tension while getting relatively involved in the crisis of terrorism in Syria, though they have admitted that their intervention in Syria at the current level cannot be effective. The war in Yemen, which is going on without any obvious gain, only deepens the existing hatreds. In Egypt, a wave of insecurity and terrorist attacks is sweeping through the country. Iraq is grappling with the complexities of Daesh crisis as well as various ethnic and tribal issues and is crumbling between the hammer of the United States’ policies and the anvil of its regional allies. All told, no sign of the reduction of crisis is visible anywhere on the horizon, while on the contrary, there is ample evidence of the spillover of regional crisis into the Western societies.

Any analyst familiar with the region will analyze all these trends on the basis of the existence of a covert factor that plays the main role in this regard. To assess this analysis, I suggest we use our imagination and consider the present conditions in a presumptive and unreal state; a state in which the foreign force as a factor has been totally crossed out and, subsequently, neither NATO, nor Russia play a part in regional developments. If the balance of regional viewpoints and determinations is oriented toward further strengthening of regional security and stability and cooperation, then this analysis can be considered as comprehensive. Otherwise, we must also think about local factors that play a role in stoking crisis.

There are few observers, if any, who would not know that during the past decade, regional leaders have turned their back on traditional security arrangements that had been gradually established following World War II. Of course, those arrangements were not flawless, but they took into account the most important natural causes of instability and had offered strategies for containing them as a result of which they met the overall interests of all involved parties. As those arrangements were phased out, the result was the emergence of multifaceted conflicts, the parties to which have knowingly or unknowingly activated a third force, which rapidly took the initiative from godfathers. Internationalization of crisis in order to curb this threat proved a failure because involvement of transregional forces is mostly meant at achieving their own long-term goals, not to contain regional crisis. As a result, new conflicting wills were added to the old fabric of the conflict and the region was drawn more and more into the vortex of these conflicting wills.

Iran and other regional powers must make strategic decisions. A review of the path they have taken so far will show that the price of the policy adopted to expand their influence in the region and fill the power void created as the result of the US returning to policy of isolation at the cost of undermining traditional rivals has been much higher than original estimates. This effort is gradually moving toward a situation that would be much worse than being defeated in the face of a regional rival and signs of this threat can be already observed. If the practical result of the ongoing game is turning the Middle East into a field for tug of war among transregional bullies, and as a result, regional actors lose control of the situation, the regional countries would be the main losers. The experience gained in the past two centuries shows that the industrial world will neither desist its effort to gain control over regional energy sources, nor will it care a bit for the interests of the main owners of this resources in its internal competition.

Saudi Arabia distancing from the West, Turkey’s engagement in war as NATO’s proxy, turning Syria into a garrison for multinational forces, continuation of bloodletting in Yemen and Egypt and Libya, the ridiculous civil war in Iraq (either on ethnic or tribal grounds), and exporting murderers to the Western countries will have no benefit for any of the natural governments of the Middle East and will, at the end of the day, be to the detriment of all of them. If we attach any importance to our natural and God-given assets, we must forge some sort of regional interaction before it is too late. Such an interaction must return control of regional affairs to regional countries and, as a result, restrict the role played by transregional powers, though it would need difficult and painful decisions.

Key Words: Strategic Decision-Making, Crises, Middle East, Multifaceted Military Conflicts, Tension, Turkey, Russia, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Daesh, Traditional Security, Saudi Arabia, West, Regional Interaction, Transregional Powers, Valeh

Source: Iran Newspaper
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

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*Photo Credit: TIP News

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